TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2016 /CNW/ - The closure of two daily newspapers that have published since this country's founding days, following on the heels of last week's newsroom mergers, underlines the need for a broad public policy discussion about the future of Canada's news media, Unifor says.
"Across this country, the vital role played by journalist is being challenged like never before," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
"Without a thriving news media, our democracy is diminished. We all suffer when a newspaper closes."
Torstar Corp. announced today that it is closing the 149-year-old Guelph Mercury, just days after Black Press announced it is closing the 141-year-old Nanaimo Daily News. Last week, Postmedia merged newsrooms in four major cities where it has two papers – Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
In broadcast, CRTC regulations brought in under the former Harper government have robbed local TV stations of the funding they need to cover their communities. Just before Christmas, CHCH TV in Hamilton declared bankruptcy.
On Canada's east coast, journalists at the Halifax Chronicle Herald are on strike in the face of demands for wage cuts, longer working hours, pension changes and layoffs.
"Fragmented ad dollars are putting Canadian journalism and coverage of local and regional news at risk," Dias said.
"Media outlets are more than a business. They are a public trust, and we need to find a way forward to ensure that they survive these difficult times and find a way to thrive into the future."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 14,500 in media. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.